Cuts could include arts, freshmen athletics

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NAUGATUCK — Imagine elementary schools with no physical education, music or art programs, and a high school with no freshmen sports.

Also picture a school system that would eliminate 60 of its 400 teachers, or 15 percent, and three administrators, and chop 45 minutes from its school day.

That’s what the borough’s 11 public schools, which face a projected budget shortfall of at least $2 million this fiscal year, would look like under a cost-savings plan presented by Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Tindall-Gibson to principals Monday. The proposal would save the school system $2.26 million.

“I see no way we can move forward at this point without staff reductions,” Tindall-Gibson told more than 150 parents, teachers and municipal and school officials who packed Naugatuck High School’s library Monday night.

Tindall-Gibson did not present the cost-savings proposal, obtained by the Republican-American, at Monday’s meeting. He said he is prepared to present recommendations that would allow the school system to end the fiscal year in June with no budget shortfall. He would not elaborate.

The school board made no decisions at the meeting, and said it will decide next week how to make up the projected shortfall. The deficit could grow to about $3 million if there are many health insurance claims filed by June, officials said.

News of Tindall-Gibson’s plan spread quickly in the borough Monday after principals revealed it to teachers after school.

Parent Jennifer Delaney, a public school teacher in another district who has a second-grader at Salem Elementary School here, said the cuts would cripple the quality of education in Naugatuck.

Delaney said she and her husband, Chip, recently moved here because they love the schools and wanted their son, Nate, to have the same experiences Chip had growing up here.

Tindall-Gibson’s proposal did not specify which teachers or how many at each school would be eliminated.

The proposal stated the student day would be shortened by 45 minutes to allow for all teachers to have contractual planning time at the end of the day, and “at least 10 classrooms at the K-6 level would be collapsed, making class sizes larger.”

Charley Marenghi, vice president and spokesman of the Naugatuck Teachers’ League, said teachers were devastated by the proposal. He said the union membership “has demanded” to take a symbolic vote of no confidence in Tindall-Gibson on Thursday.

The following is what Tindall-Gibson’s proposal would eliminate, and how much each item would save:

Three administrative positions, $72,000

K-8 library/media positions, $215,324

K-8 music positions, $407,629

K-6 physical education/health positions, $190,446

K-8 art positions, $223,598

K-6 teacher positions, $235,598

K-6 teacher positions, $223,598

7-8 specials positions, $163,773

9-12 teacher positions, $315,354

Security guard, $10,800

Freshmen sports, $25,000

Stirling Insurance (a new carrier) would save $91,000

A new noncertified staff contract saved $35,000

Insurance waiver, $146,000

Textbooks, $60,000

Administration funding, $70,000